Authors: Nyree Stenekes, Rob Kancans, Bill Binks
Pest animal and Weed Management Survey: National landholder survey results report presents the key results from a national survey of 6470 agricultural land managers undertaken by ABARES in 2016 about pest and weed management on their property and local area.
The survey respondents represented land managers across broadacre, horticulture, dairy and other livestock (poultry, deer, horses, bee-keeping) industries, each with an estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) of $5000 per year or more, across 53 natural resource management regions in Australia.
The data were collected through a combination of hardcopy postal and online versions of the survey. Approximately 77 per cent of responses received were via the postal survey and 23 per cent via the online survey. A response rate of 50.1 per cent overall was achieved.
This report presents results on a range of topics from the survey including:
- level of awareness of pest animals and Weeds of National Significance (WoNS)
- impacts of pest animals and weeds
- pest animal and weed management activities on the property and in the local area
- and information sources and participation in local support networks.
- A majority of land managers indicated an awareness of the presence of rabbits/hares, foxes, native animals and birds, and rodents (rats and mice) on their property in the past 12 months.
- The awareness of wild dogs, feral pigs, feral deer, feral goats, camels and horses/donkeys varies significantly across Australian agricultural regions. Queensland land managers reported a higher awareness of feral pigs. In Victoria, land managers reported a higher awareness of feral deer.
- The presence of a given pest animal does not necessarily indicate it is a major problem for land managers. For example, while rabbits/hares are widespread (72 per cent of respondents indicating presence on their property) only 11 per cent of respondents indicated they are a major problem, with the majority (61 per cent) of respondents indicating they are only a minor problem or no problem.
- Twenty five per cent of land managers reported major weed problems in the last 12 months.
- Problems related to the presence of Weeds of National Significance (WoNS) on agricultural properties are widespread, with land managers in all regions reporting issues with WoNS.
- Landholders reported feral animals contributing to crop damage, decreased livestock production and infrastructure damage; native animals and birds contributing to crop damage, infrastructure damage and decreased livestock production; and insects contributing to crop damage.
- The majority of land managers reported a decrease in the value of production as the main impact stemming from weeds.
- Nearly 80 per cent of respondents were actively managing a pest animal, and 85 per cent were actively managing weeds on their property in the last 12 months.
- Shooting and ground baiting continue to be widely used tools for vertebrate pest management.
- Herbicide is used by 90 per cent of landholders in the management of weeds and reported as effective by the vast majority.
- The majority of respondents reported that pest animal and weed control methods they were using were at least moderately effective.
- Sixty five per cent of land managers reported that an agency or group were undertaking pest and animal management activities in their local area, while 51 per cent reported an agency or group were undertaking weed management activities.
- An average of $19,620 was spent per agricultural business on undertaking pest animal and weed management activities in the last 12 months. This figure includes pest animal and weed management related expenditure on traps, baits, pesticides/insecticides, fuel, fencing materials, and labour (including the cost of contractors) on the property in the last 12 months.
- Pest animal and weeds control activities took an average of 77 person days per agricultural business by owners/operators (including family members) and 39 person days by contractors, employees and other people (for example, volunteers) in the last 12 months.
Management Groups, activities and programs
- Nearly eight per cent of landholders were members of a pest animal or weed management group. The majority of the groups had developed a plan for coordinating management activities or collaborating with other stakeholders.
- A majority of land managers reported: new and improved control methods; access to information on control options and methods; more management activities by other land managers (private and public); and better access to biological controls as important actions that could improve pest animal and weed management.
- Pest animal and weed management program awareness and participation was highest for activities provided by Regional Natural Resource Management groups, Local government and Landcare.
- Land managers predominately used: peers and neighbours; agribusiness; State government; family and friends and private agricultural consultants for information and advice.
- Land managers predominately used: the internet; books, magazines and journals; and demonstration trials as sources of information for managing pest animals and weeds.
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